THE COMPLETE PRESS
WEST NORWOOD S.E.
Walter Clinton Jackson Library
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Special Collections & Rare Books
World War I Pamphlet Collection
With the Compliments
Professor W. Macneile Dixon
(University of Glasgow).
London, S.W. 1.
THE COMMERCIAL FUTURE
The proclamation of General Sir Stanley Maude,
the victor of Baghdad, to the people of that
ancient city of the East is certain to make a
profound impression. He points out to the
Arabs that the British troops have come, not as
conquerors or enemies, but as liberators, who
will help the people to restore their land, so long
made desolate by their oppressors, the Turks,
to something like its old-time prosperity and
An important statement on the future of
Mesopotamia and the splendid trade prospect
that has now opened out before, not only the
people of that land, but the merchants of the
world, has been made by Lieut. -Col. Sir Mark
Sykes, a member of the British House of
Commons, who has devoted much study to racial
and pohtical problems of the Near East.
He is convinced that with the removal of the
paralysing hand of the Turk, who has for so
long kept a strangle-hold on the development of
the fertile land and its peoples, will come a great
and steady improvement in its fortunes.
4 COMMERCIAL FUTURE OF BAGHDAD
" All the merchants in the world will profit/'
said Sir Mark, " It will mean eventually putting
down something like a new Hamburg in the
world. Money will be made there, and the Arab,
if the past is any criterion, will acquire European
tastes, and will want to buy things.
" If the Arab in the fourth century liked
Corinthian columns so much that he built them
in the desert, there is every reason to beUeve
that he wiU have similar ambitions again, now
that he is to be a free man, able to respond to
the high intellectual impulses which have always
been a characteristic of his race.
" Baghdad depends for its prosperity upon two
factors — its position as a junction of main routes,
and its central situation in a very rich agri-
cultural area. It has a double advantage as a
junction of routes, because it is a place where
the rivers Euphrates and Tigris come very close
to one another, two big rivers which, even under
the primitive conditions of the present time,
carry an . enormous amount of current-borne
traffic, by means of rafts on the Tigris, and barges
and rafts on the Euphrates,
" On the Euphrates comes the water-borne
transport from Aleppo down to within thirty
miles of Baghdad.
" On the Tigris comes the water-borne trans-
port of Diarbekir. Baghdad has the only caravan
route from Central Persia, and as the Tigris is
fuUy navigable from Basra, Baghdad is almost
COMMERCIAL FUTURE OF BAGHDAD 5
a seaport, an important point when one considers
that goods come cheaper by water than by rail.
" With the development of river traffic, it wiU
be cheaper to send goods to Mosul via Baghdad
than from the Mediterranean.
" Then, of course, there is the enormously
important factor of the Baghdad Railway.
Primarily intended to be built for commerce,
it has, in the hands of the Germans, become
strategic, with a view to menacing India.
" Mindful of the British Fleet, they kept as
far away from its influence as possible. They
could not avoid going near it at Alexandretta,
but beyond that place, instead of going the
natural way along the Euphrates valley, they
went round by Mosul.
"It is a railway which will build itself. It
will be in easy communication with the Mediter-
ranean, and we may witness a return of what
was the overland route of the Middle Ages, a
route which died out when Vasco da Gama
rounded the Cape, a discovery almost as fatal
to Middle Eastern culture as the destruction of
Baghdad by the Turanian hordes.
" Railway construction across the Syrian desert
will be so easy that probably Damascus will be
connected with the Euphrates. There could be
an open road across the flat desert for motor-
cars, and there is plenty of water if only it can
be stored. All over that desert you see remains
of ancient dams, and there is no reason why it
6 COMMERCIAL FUTURE OF BAGHDAD
should not have considerable reservoirs as it
had in the past.
" The development of Baghdad has been
checked by the bad sanitarj'' conditions, causing
frightful outbreaks of cholera, and by the artificial
restrictions imposed by the Turks. For the last
forty years practically such of the male population
as could not pay exemption were carried off for
long terms of service with the colours. Fifteen
per cent, never survived the life in the pestilential
barracks, and the rest returned broken men.
" An Enghsh medical missionary at Mosul told
me that if he could have charge of the sanitation
of the place the population would be doubled in
fifteen years, because there is such a high birth-
" Remove the restrictions, and the population
of Baghdad, which was about 140,000 before the
war, and practically a commercial population,
would be doubled also.
" Government, as a rule, is a plus quantity,
but Turkish Government is always a minus
quantity. During the last years of the eighteenth
century in Northern Mesopotamia, when the
country was in a condition of anarchy, tempered
by feudalism, the population was more than it
" An increasing population in the near future
means that more labour will be available for
irrigation works. One does not want to raise
false hopes — but there is no doubt that the land
COMMERCIAL FUTURE OF BAGHDAD 7
is the richest in the world- The water-supply
is there, but there is need for great organization.
You can cultivate as fast as you can irrigate,
and irrigate as fast as you can get labour.
" The people will go there gradually, but we
must not imagine that, ten years after the awaken-
ing, Mesopotamia will have become as great as
it was a thousand years ago. It will take much
longer than that, if it ever does reach to such
" It should be remembered that the Arabs are
just as susceptible to the influence of education
as any people in the world, and that is an enor-
" Mesopotamia has always been a centre of
intellectual life, and I will say this for the Turks,
that with all their vices they did a very great
deal, especially under Abdul Hamid, for educa-
tion. It was part of their plan of Turkeyfjdng
" Those who were trained in the Government
schools are capable of holding their own with the
educated of any other country. There is no
reason why Baghdad and other centres^ should
not turn out just as good men in the professions
and in commerce as the European countries.
" People were studying Plato in Baghdad in
the eighth century.
" Turkey is the only nation which has not been
\ source of profit to the Arab, and that is because
the Turk only looks for conquest. The Intel-
8 COMMERCIAL FUTURE OF BAGHDAD
lectual marriage of the Arab with the Turk is the
only union the Arab has made which has been
" Now the Arab is once more coming into
contact with European civilization, it will be as
well to bear in mind that he is a Semite, with all
the inteUigence and resource of that race.
" There are rich oilfields near by, and the
* Black Country ' of Mesopotamia may rise
here, and the demands on European manufac-
turers for machinery and other things should be
Printed in Great Britain by the Complete Press,
West Norwood, London S.E.